Perek Shira: The Song of the Apple Tree
by Rabbi Shmuel Kraines
The apple tree says: “Like an apple tree among the forest trees, so is my beloved amongst the young men. In his shade I desired and sat, and his fruit was sweet to my palate.” (Shir HaShirim 2:3)
Among the trees of the forest, the apple tree stands out with its sweet fruit, pleasant fragrance and bright colors. However, it has comparably less shade than many other trees. It sings of how the Jewish nation chose to accept the Torah for the sweetness of its promised fruit, even though it is a lifestyle that involves hard work and little shade. This is unlike the other nations who refused the Torah, preferring instead the comforts of this world which is like a fruitless, shady tree. It also sings of our trust in Hashem in accepting His Torah without inquiring as to its contents, in the same way as the apples begin to grow before their protective leaves have finished growing. The apple tree begins to grow in the month of Nissan and completes its growth after 50 days, in Sivan. This represents the 50 days from the Exodus in Nissan until the giving of the Torah in Sivan.
Therefore, the apple tree reminds us of our faithful relationship with Hashem, and of how any discomforts involved in performing His mitzvahs are outweighed by their sweetness and the eventual eternal comfort in the World to Come. The secular dream of idly enjoying life in the shade can be enticing, but the sweet tones of the apple tree’s song help to dispel doubts and to remove temptations.
- Sources: Perek B’Shir (by Rav’ Chaim Kanievsky); Shir HaShirim Rabbah 2:2; Shabbat 87a, according to Ben Yehoyahah; Midrash Chazis, according to Sefer HaIkarim 3:1 (cited in Nachalei Devash)
*In loving memory of Harav Zeev Shlomo ben Zecharia Leib